Surprised by Joy, by C. S. Lewis

2012 Book 144: Surprised by Joy

Written by C. S. Lewis, Narrated by Geoffrey Howard

Reason for Reading: I’m slowly working through the books of C. S. Lewis out of curiosity for his theology. 


In this short memoir, C. S. Lewis describes his spiritual journey from youthful atheist to firm and faithful believer. This isn’t really a memoir of Lewis’ life, although it does contain some interesting anecdotes about his school years. Mostly, he only focuses on incidents in his life that impacted his spiritual development. I have read many spiritual development memoirs, and this one is like the others…only it stands out because it is a classic. It was written when these types of journeys were not as commonly shared in memoirs. (In fact, I suspect that this book was one of the ones that inspired so many of the spiritual-journey memoirs that we see today.) One thing I found interesting about this book is it explained to me why so many people retro-diagnose Lewis with Asperger’s syndrome. He talked about his difficulties dealing with other students…not knowing how to respond in social situations and being told to “take that look off [his] face” when he was trying very hard to keep an appropriate facial expression. I think it is important to recognize that we can’t accurately retro-diagnose people with today’s syndromes, but it IS interesting to see how such personality traits were present in Lewis’ day, and how he excused them with stories about how childhood events affected his social interactions. It was definitely an interesting read…and anyone who likes to hear about others’ spiritual journeys really should start with C. S. Lewis.

6 thoughts on “Surprised by Joy, by C. S. Lewis

  1. Thanks for stopping by everyone! It was a very short book, so if you're at all interested, its worth trying out. 🙂

    I'm not sure if he really had Asperger's…but people have surely been suggesting that based on his personality quirks. I'm not sure how meaningful it is to diagnose someone who's long dead with today's syndromes! 😀


  2. Very interesting! I don't know much about Lewis, but I think it is fascinating how people today want to go back and diagnose those long gone with different things. Is that going to help us understand them better? Or does it help us excuse ourselves from not understanding?


  3. haha! That's a good point! We might just be excusing ourselves for not understanding. 😉

    I'm not sure what we get out of diagnosing people that are already dead…it's possible that if I had a child with Asperger's I could say: look at all these successful people who suffer from the same problems…if they can overcome it, so can you. It's difficult, but your goals CAN be reached. 🙂


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